Strength Training Or Aerobic Activity?

Hey…Anyone out there remember those Miller Lite TV commercials from the 1980s where people would argue whether the beer’s best feature was either tasting great or being less filling?  The message was that despite the debate, both aspects were great about the beer.  Let’s bring this “argument” to the weight control arena and exercise.

There are only so many hours in a day and with most people’s hectic schedules, there is precious little time for exercising.  When we do find that exercise opportunity, is that time better spent on strength training, such as resistance bands and weight lifting OR aerobic activity such as running, biking, elliptical machine time, etc?

From a weight-control standpoint, the aerobic activities will contribute more aggressively to losing weight than strength training.  Yes, it is the case that “muscles burn more calories than fat” BUT unless you are doing really intense strength training, muscles will not be building all that quickly.  Burning off those calories requires the heart rate going up and sustaining that aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes. The target heart rate for fat burning is 80% of maximum heart rate for age.  You can determine your “80%” by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying that number by 80%.  As an example, if you are 50 years old, the goal for your aerobic activity is reaching a heart rate of 136 (220-50= 170, 170X 80% = 136).  This does not imply that exercising to a level that does not bring you close to your target heart rate has no benefit at all, but the more the heart rate pumps, the more the weight will come off.

Strength training is absolutely beneficial for a number of reasons:

ï  Makes you stronger

ï  Burns calories efficiently

ï  Decreases abdominal fat

ï  Can help you appear leaner

ï  Decreases your risk of falls

ï  Lowers your risk of injury

ï  Improves heart health 

ï  Helps manage your blood sugar level

Posner’s recommendation:  If you are in a weight-losing mode, devote 75% of your workout time to aerobic activity and 25% to strength training.  As you get closer and closer to your weight goal, then re-balance this more 50-50.

So, BOTH aerobic exercise and strength training are beneficial for weight control and overall health.  Enjoy a vintage commercial from the 1980s.